The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has removed the tax exempt status of a conservative group, The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, as they have allegedly intervened in political campaigns, marked by opposing statements regarding Hillary Clinton’s potential run for the presidency. The statement released by the IRS says that the group expressed its opinions related to whether or not certain candidates were qualified to run for office, as well as making comments about their personal character, which, according to the IRS, is an expression of support for or opposition of, specific candidates. In other words, the IRS is using the tax code as a weapon to silence opinions of dissent.
This is, of course, nothing new, as the IRS has been involved in a number of scandals lately dealing with the deliberate targeting of conservative groups by the government. It seems that Progressives use the tax code, not as a means to simply gain revenue for government-funded programs, but to force people to stay in line with their agenda or else face audits and a wide range of other horrors they have concocted to silence those who oppose an ever-expanding government.
Gary Aldrich, formerly of the FBI, established the group after writing a book in 1996 that was critical of the Clinton presidency. The book contained an odd number of claims about both President Clinton and his wife, Hillary. Shortly after the book’s release, Aldrich founded the conservative group to work closely with whistleblowers who were airing out the dirty laundry of the federal government. One of the most famous clients the organization worked with was Linda Tripp, who is responsible for releasing the infamous phone calls that ignited the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Over the past decade, Aldrich has written a number of articles that take aim at former candidates like John Kerry, and in 2005, it emptied both barrels-metaphorically speaking-on Hillary Clinton, encouraging those who were opposed to her bid for the presidency to inform others of her “atrocious behavior.” These works opposing Clinton and Kerry are what the IRS is citing as justification for taking away the tax-exempt status of Aldrich’s conservative group.
The tax code forbids a charity or nonprofit from engaging in electoral politics. The question to ask is whether or not the works presented by Aldrich’s group can truly be interpreted as advocating for or against a specific candidate. The organization has stated that the works cited by the IRS could be interpreted differently by different people, and that most of the information posted to the website did not advocate for or against any particular candidate.
A big problem with the whole scenario is the definition of “engaging in electoral politics.” What does that mean and who gets to decide what kind of activities are included in that particular category? Who is interpreting the tax code to determine if actions being taken by a political nonprofit are breaking the rules? Is the government just doing its job and upholding the law, or is this a flexing of muscle? The fact that the IRS has the power to revoke a conservative group’s tax-exempt status over the expression of opinions is troubling, but it is apparent that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell